Food Mood Connection

Young woman eating donut over pink backgroundScientific research and personal expeerience both demonstrate that what we eat affects how we think and how we act. Still, most people don't acknowledge the connection between their food and their mood. Stop and think for a moment about how you feel throughout the day. Do you sometimes feel fuzzy and tired after lunch? Angry and irritable between meals? Energised by the great meal?

Food undoubtedly changes your mood. The most extreme examples are coffee/alcohol, which chane your state of mind within minutes. For this reason, we don't really classify them as foods but as drugs. The standard American diet, high in processed carbohydrates and poor-quality animal meat while lacking in vegetables and water, leaves many people in a bad mood. It's hard to feel inspired and happy when you are living on chemical, artificial junk food.

From a scientific perspective, the food-mood relationship is maintained by neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that relay thoughts and actions throughout the brain. Some neurotransmitters, such as seratonin can make us feel relaxed. Others, such as dopamine, have a stimulating effect. The food we eat breaks down in our digestive tract, enters our blood stream and creates changes in the behaviour of these neurotransmitters, thus impacting our mood. Eating too many carbs or overly processed carbs like sugar and flour releases even more seratonin, causing drowsiness. Eating protein produces dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which makes people feel more alert and full of energy, if protein is eaten in the appropriate portions. On the other hand, overeating protein can lead to tension and irritability.

One of the best ways to discover how different foods affect your moods is to simply record what you can eat and how you feel afterward.

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